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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

36         HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

educated. The training that forms the souls of the constituent
members of the community inevitably affects the character of
the community itself. According to Plato, every class in the
State has its own characteristic virtue—the common people
temperance, the soldiers courage, the governors wisdom—each
representing the special development of some fundamental
attribute of the soul. The quality of the State, therefore, depends
on the kind of education that its component groups receive.

This is the idea that underlies the educational system of the
Republic. Every person in the State, irrespective of sex and of
social rank, is to receive the training which will enable him to
play the part for which he is best fitted; and all forms of culture
(literature and music, for example) are to be regulated and
censored in view of their educational effects. The common
people, who lack capacity for government, are to get no education
beyond what comes to them from living in a beautiful, well-
ordered community: the main virtue required for the duties of
their station is the self-control that makes them willing to submit
to being ruled, and that is assured by the very fact that their
rulers are wise. Those members of the ruling class who show
practical ability but lack philosophical insight get a training that
equips them for military service and for subordinate positions as
" helpers" in the work of government, Only the men and
women of true wisdom who have risen above the limitations of
their own particular experience to a knowledge of the supreme
good through the study of dialectic are judged capable of acting
as the " guardians " of the State. They are the true philosopher-
kings on whose wisdom the security and the well-being of the
whole State depends.

The succession of great Greek educators came to a fitting end
with one who was in some respects the greatest of them all—
^ARISTOTLE (384-322 B.C.), the disciple of Plato, the disciple of
Socrates. In all fundamental matters Aristotle is in agreement
with his master. Where he differs from him, it is generally to
carry his principles a stage further, Like Plato, he always thinks
of education in relation to the State: for both of them, the art
of education is part of the supreme art of politics. If we are to
find difference between them, it would seem to be in the greater
importance attached by Aristotle to education as an individual
process, Aristotle in his lifetime saw the passing of the free